Hopping on a Zoom or Skype meeting has become the norm for anyone who’s been working from home since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
They’re an easy and convenient way to communicate - and for teams they do something to compensate for the lack of time together in a physical workplace.
But if the average working day now contains a lot of video meetings, non-stop facetime has brought a new phenomenon: Zoom fatigue.
It turns out that dialling into meetings and spending so much time on camera makes many staff feel more tired at the end of a normal working day. Video meetings can be mentally exhausting in their own way, taking more focus and energy than in-person conversations.
There are no visual breaks, which is not only tiring on eyes but also uncomfortable for anyone not a fan of looking at themselves on screen or being ‘on display’.
And depending on personal circumstances there’s the added stress of getting interrupted (children, flatmates, pets… take your pick) - even more so if staff live without a dedicated work space.
Given all this, what are the ways that you can help your employees cope with video burnout now that it's a part of the pandemic way of working?
Sometimes it’s best to talk to someone face to face on video - particularly if you feel you need more intense interaction while you’re collaborating. But often a phone call - or video call with the video function set to off - works just as well.
A good halfway option? Decide as a group that you’ll do one part of the meeting over video, then turn off cameras and make it audio only for the rest of the time. This can stop energy levels from flagging during longer meetings, in particular.
In a busy time for a team working on a big project, it might be tempting to fill employees’ calendars with back-to-back video calls.
And even an average work day can see multiple chats between colleagues or larger meetings for a department - as we’ve found at HR GO where we frequently communicate between our nationwide branches and head office.
The result? A busy virtual meeting schedule makes scheduled breaks essential if employees are able to recharge and plan for the next call.
So build in a minimum of five or 10 minutes between appointments. This means employees can get up and move around a bit which is important at the moment when there’s more sedentary working than ever.
Many companies are trying to keep staff connected, which includes holding virtual happy hours and weekly lunches over video.
But think how an invitation to a virtual event might seem to an employee who already feels drained at the end of a day of video meetings - particularly if they’re an introvert who already made excuses to stay away from social occasions in pre-pandemic times.
Switch invites to optional and make it clear that anyone who’d prefer not to attend won’t be penalised or marked down.
Now Zoom fatigue is definitely ‘a thing’, take time to think whether you can cut down on remote meetings.
There’s a chance that whatever was due to be discussed could be covered via another channel of communication. Remember email and instant messaging? They worked before the pandemic and they’re just as effective now.
With working from home here to stay in one form or another, video calls are a part of the new normal. So it’s crucial that you help employees find a way to work that doesn’t drain them at the end of the day - but instead keeps them motivated and engaged for the future.